Raising anti-BJP slogans, protestors say they will resign jobs and leave Kashmir if security not given
Anantnag: The minority Pandit community continued to protest on the streets for the second day against the targeted killing of their members, with some protestors hurling stones at police and the police firing tear smoke shells to disperse them near the Srinagar airport.
The latest Pandit to be killed by militants was a young Revenue department official who was shot inside his office chamber at Tehsil office Chadoora in Budgam district. Rahul Bhatt lived in the Sheikhpora Migrant Colony in Budgam and succumbed to bullet wounds at a Srinagar hospital.
Soon after his killing, hundreds of Pandits assembled outside the colony in Sheikhpora and demanded that the LG, Majoj Sinha, visit them.
“We waited till 11:00 AM today and he did not show up,” the Pandits said as they tried to march towards the Srinagar airport. “We had informed the local administration and the police. All we needed was an assurance about our safety, but nobody cared,” they said.
LG Sinha, meanwhile, took to Twitter and maintained that he had met the family of the slain Bhatt. “Met his family and assured justice. In this hour of grief, the government stands firmly with Rahul’s family. Terrorists and their supporters will have to pay a very heavy price for their heinous act,” Sinha tweeted.
The Pandits raised anti-administration slogans while they tried to march towards the airport. The march, however, was foiled by police and paramilitary forces, who fired tear smoke shells to disperse them.
Sources in the area said that the agitating Pandits hurled stones at the police and paramilitary forces when they were not allowed to move towards the airport. Police said that a few tear smoke shells were fired to disperse the protestors.
“Some miscreants among the protestors pelted stones at the policemen on duty, forcing the cops to use mild force,” a police official from Budgam was quoted by a news agency as saying.
The protests in Sheikhpora continued almost through the day, with women from the Pandit community also hitting the roads. “We will be forced to flee the valley again if the situation remains the same and the administration does not address our concerns. We cannot sit back and wait to get killed,” the protestors said.
In Anantnag, Pandits living in the Mattan transit camp blocked the Khannabal-Pahalgam (KP) road and raised anti-BJP and anti-administration slogans.
“BJP has completely failed in providing the required security to Kashmiri Pandits, including those who stayed back in Kashmir and the ones who are migrants and are working under Prime Minister’s package here,” Rajat, a Pandit leading the protests, told media persons.
He said that the administration should take all Pandits who are working in Kashmir under the PM’s package to secure locations. “Otherwise, we will resign en masse. We should not be forced to do so,” he said.
Protests also continued in Vessu area of Qazigund where Pandits had blocked NH-44 late Thursday evening as they raised slogans and held a candlelight vigil. Pandits living in Nikas area of Pulwama district also held protest demonstrations.
Rahul Bhatt, meanwhile, was cremated in Jammu, where dozens of Pandits attended the cremation. BJP leader Ravinder Raina also visited the cremation ground and listened to the Pandits accusing senior officials of the Revenue department of forcing Bhat to resume duty recently.
“He had a medical emergency at home and despite that, he was forced to resume duty in Kashmir. Why? This should be probed,” the Pandits at the cremation ground said.
Some other Pandits at the cremation ground appealed to fellow Hindus to not visit the valley until the “Ghazwa-e-Hind” is not over. “And the ones living in the valley should be given guns so that they can protect themselves from the terrorists,” the members of the Pandit community said.
Protests were also reported from other parts of Jammu city, held by the Kashmiri Pandits living in those areas.